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Large delay in flowering in continental versus coastal populations of a Mediterranean shrub, Globularia alypum

Abstract

Globularia alypum is a perennial shrub typical of western Mediterranean thermophilous shrublands. Nine populations of G. alypum located in different localities of Catalonia (NE Spain) were surveyed for flowering phenology. Flower-head buds were present in all the populations in July. Flowering time in the area spans from the late summer–early autumn to the next spring depending on the populations; there are two groups of populations, early and late flowering. Early populations grow mostly in coastal localities and flower from September to November, whereas late flowering populations grow in inland localities and flower from February to April. The flowering order of the populations correlated with minimum temperature of most months except the warmest ones, and correlated with maximum and mean temperatures of the coldest months. Correlations were similar when tested with annual climate. The flowering order also correlated with the thermic interval for most months except the coldest and with the index of continentality. Early populations alone did not present correlations with any variable, whereas late populations alone correlated similarly to all populations together. Flowering order did not correlate with precipitation. Late populations are proposed to be regulated by temperature according to our results whereas early populations could be regulated by timing in precipitation after summer drought, according to published results. We discuss the possibilities of the two flowering patterns, early and late, being due to phenotypic plasticity or to genetic adaptation to local climates. We also discuss the consequences at the plant and ecosystem level of climate warming causing shifts from late to early patterns, a possibility that is likely in the warmest of the late populations if flowering is modulated phenotypically.

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Acknowledgements

This research has been supported by the Spanish government projects CGL2006-04025/BOS and CGL2010-17172/BOS and the Consolider-Ingenio Montes (CSD2008-00040), the Catalan Government project SGR2009-458, and the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas project Proyecto Intramural Especial 200730I030. We greatly acknowledge the support from Servei de Granges i Camps Experimentals at the Autonomus University of Barcelona and from Parc Natural del Garraf.

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Correspondence to Marc Estiarte.

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Estiarte, M., Puig, G. & Peñuelas, J. Large delay in flowering in continental versus coastal populations of a Mediterranean shrub, Globularia alypum . Int J Biometeorol 55, 855–865 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-011-0422-9

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Keywords

  • Flowering
  • Phenology
  • Mediterranean ecosystems
  • Shrubs
  • Globularia alypum